I'm From The Government And I'm Here To Help
Like most passengers on
a commercial airlines flight, Lt. Col. Scott Neumann probably
expected a long, uneventful flight from Dulles International
Airport in Washington, DC, to Los Angeles. Boy, was he wrong.
Here's the FAA's version of what happened:
Regis#: AAL149 Make/Model: B738
Date: 11/09/2004 Time: 1657
Event Type: Incident Highest Injury: None
Mid Air: N Missing: N
City: COLORADO SPRINGS State:
CO Country: US
AMERICAN AIRLINES, AAL-149, A BOEING B-738 ACFT, DECLARED A
MEDICAL EMERGENCY AFTER A CREW MEMBER EXPERIENCED A SEIZURE,
THE ACFT DIVERTED AND LANDED WITHOUT INCIDENT, COLORADO
INJURY DATA Total Fatal: 0
0 Fat: 0 Ser: 0
Min: 0 Unk:
0 Fat: 0 Ser:
0 Min: 0 Unk:
Grnd: Fat: 0
Ser: 0 Min: 0 Unk:
WEATHER: KCOS METAR 091653Z AUTO 19017KT 10SM CLR
Activity: Business Phase: Unknown
Operation: Air Carrier
Departed: WASH, DC DULLES
Dep Date: 11/09/2004 Dep. Time:
Destination: LOS ANGELES, CA Flt
Plan: IFR Wx Briefing: U
Last Radio Cont: 2 M FINAL Last Clearance: CLRD TO
FAA FSDO: DENVER, CO
And Now... The Rest Of The Story
Neumann (pictured right
at the controls of a B-1B as a major in 1998, in the only photo of
him we could find), deputy commander for the 412th Operations Group
at Edwards Air Force Base, CA, had just wrapped up a semi-annual
meeting with the National Aeronautic Association contest and
records board and was settled into his seat in coach class for his
coast-to-coast trip Tuesday.
During the flight, he'd struck up a conversation with one of the
flight attendants. He shared that he'd been a test pilot for the
B-2 and other aircraft.
With small talk aside, the flight attendant went about her business
and so did Colonel Neumann -- but not for long. "About one and a
half hours into the flight, the flight attendant made an
announcement requesting a doctor or nurse," he said. Then she
gathered up the airliner's medical equipment, oxygen bottle and
headed toward the cockpit. The First Officer was having a
The pilot had struggled to restrain the seizing co-pilot as he
requested assistance and piloted the aircraft during the
A nurse who was a passenger behind Colonel Neumann responded to the
request for assistance. And when the call came out for a couple of
strong able bodies, Colonel Neumann and a fellow traveler stepped
forward. They moved the First Officer into the forward galley to
allow the nurse to treat his symptoms.
The 737's pilot, now without a First Officer, decided an emergency
divert to Colorado Springs Airport was in order. The flight
attendant told him about Colonel Neumann's experience as a test
"You'll do," the captain told the colonel. So Colonel Neumann moved
from coach to better than first class. New to the 737 airframe,
Colonel Neumann said he helped the pilot run checklists and land
Upon arrival in Colorado Springs, just after 1000, a medical crew
arrived to assist the First Officer.
"Whenever there's an emergency at the airport, we're part of a
joint response with AMR [American Medical Response] and Colorado
Springs Fire Department teams," said Technical Sgt. Chancey Cruger,
lead medical responder for the Peterson AFB crew. He led Staff
Sgts. Jason Linta and Frank Poyner, and Senior Airman Eric
Schrager, a reservist who is also a Colorado Springs
"They were on board as soon as the door was opened and immediately
began giving emergency medical care to the co-pilot," Colonel
As the first responders on scene, the Team Pete crew assessed the
situation and put their well-honed training to work.
"He was conscious but not coherent," Sergeant Cruger said. They
worked together to stabilize the co-pilot, asking him basic
questions, taking vitals and checking blood sugars.
The AMR team arrived and transported the co-pilot to Memorial
Hospital in Colorado Springs. His condition is unknown.
After their patient departed, Sergeant Cruger and his crew
stayed behind to help the flight attendants clean up the mess,
which included blood. "The flight attendant said they'd clean it
up, but we have the equipment to do the job right," Sergeant Cruger
said. "That way they're not exposed to any blood-borne
As witness to the entire medical response, Colonel Neumann offered
high praise for the medical response crew from Team Pete. "They
were very professional and did an outstanding job," he said. "I
can't think of a better way for the passengers of the aircraft to
see their Air Force in action than to watch those fire department
rescuers caring for the co-pilot."
Unfortunately, Colonel Neumann's eventful flight led to a crew and
aircraft change in what was to be a non-stop flight to Los Angeles.
Given his involvement, the colonel was late in arriving to the
ticket counter to get onto the new flight. The new aircraft was
He said the ticketing agent asked if he'd been the one who
co-piloted after the emergency. Upon confirmation, the agent booked
him a first-class seat. "Not quite as good as the one I had,"
Colonel Neumann said.
On the plus side, the emergency allowed the test pilot to log in
"two or three tenths of an hour in a 737," he said. It might not
seem like much when compared to the stick time he has with the B-2,
B-1, F-16, KC-135, C-12, and C-130 airframes.
"But this will be a lot more memorable," he said. [ANN Thanks
Senior Master Sgt. Ty Foster for the story, and Staff Sgt.
Denise Johnson, USAF, 21st Space Wing Public Affairs, for the